The Pool, Spin Bike, and Treadmill. If you are a triathlete, cyclist, or runner, you likely make a B-line to these areas of the gym. Stop blazing past the squat racks and dumbbells. A properly designed strength training plan will keep you injury-free and get you to the finish line faster.
Logging miles and laps is essential to your training, but doing this alone leaves massive gaps in your overall fitness and preparation. Swimming, biking, and running occur in one plane of motion (sagittal plane), meaning your body is always moving forward in a straight line. It is important to train the body in all planes of motion to prevent deficiencies and imbalances. Core strength and stability are also key to endurance sports performance. Although, swimming, biking, and running on their own do little, to train the core muscles. A focused strength training regimen will address these gaps and give you an edge on the competition.
2 Important Keys
Specificity: Long gone are the fears that lifting weights will make you bulky and slow you down. If you take your routine straight from Pumping Iron, that may happen. By focusing on movements and energy systems specific to your sport, your plan will be tailored toward achieving added strength and speed, with minimal weight gain. Exercises with body weight or free weights are essential. These functional movements help promote balance, stability, and body-awareness. Machines often isolate muscles and limit or dictate the movement. These exercises are great for body building, but less than ideal for the endurance athlete. Be sure to include several exercises that move outside of the sagittal plane. Whether swimming, cycling, or running: we spend most of our training moving straight ahead in one plane of motion. Including transverse and frontal plane movements in your strength training will help to prevent overuse injuries that are common among endurance athletes. Visit the Functional Movement website to view a huge selection of movements.
Just as your main training calendar is periodized, so should be the strength training element of your program. Remember to view all of your training starting with an entire year Macrocycle. Your strength training periods should be in-line with your main training plan. To simplify, let’s say that all of your training can be divided into 3 phases – Base, Build, Maintenance. In a year’s time, you may touch on each phase 2 or more times. When to change phases, will be largely dictated by your race schedule.
Base Phase- This often takes place in the off-season. It is a good time to perfect basic movements, address imbalances and weaknesses, and build core stability.
Build Phase – During this phase, your swim, bike, or run training will be focused on power and speed. Your approach in the gym should be the same. Explosive moves and progressively heavier loads will increase your maximum strength.
Maintenance – In the thick of the race season, your strength training plan can be an exceptional tool for warding off overuse injuries. Be sure to include exercises that get the body moving out of the sagittal plane. Moving side to side in the transverse plane will help increase strength in the stabilizer muscles in the legs. Continuing a core stability regimen through this phase will improve overall training and racing performance, particularly at longer distance.
Finding the time to train for a marathon or triathlon can be daunting. You may be thinking, “How am I going to fit lifting into my training schedule too?” But consider this: one hour of properly programmed strength training can yield as much gain as a 3 hour bike ride. It’s never a bad idea to visit your local USAT Certified Coach or Personal Trainer for advice and guidance when beginning your strength training plan.